Monthly Archives: January 2009

Lucky Duck

Here’s an invitation to come join the

Writer Avily Jerome supplies a new word game each Wednesday; it’s always chuckle-worthy. This time, we get to help build a story…one sentence at a time.  I want to know how the story turns out, so if you haven’t already, go here to either jump in or enjoy the ride, too!

Dearest Aunt Ottilie

Around Thanksgiving I asked you to help me name a character in the novel I’m writing. This secondary character is a rabble-rousin’, tall tale-tellin’ whirlwind who’s the most loyal friend you’ll meet. (Here’s that post, and here’s more about the story.)    A poll was posted, and your suggestions rolled in.

Then I came out of left field and told you that I was naming her Otto, short for Ottilie. I figure that I owe you an ottilieexplanation.

So, here’s where that came from: over Thanksgiving we visited my family, traveling with my parents to spend time with both of my grandmothers. My grandmother on my dad’s side (“Grandmama” to me) is the daughter of German immigrants.  While there she showed us some of her personal treasures and family heirlooms she had rearranged.  Each was placed carefully on a doily-topped table (that’s a lacy covering for you men-types!).  In passing she picked up a faded, old hardback book. “…And this is the book that my aunt wrote.” The name “Ottilie Wildermuth” spanned the front. The title was in German.

Of course, being a writer type myself, I zeroed in on this little tidbit. Who was she? What did she write? Did any of her writer genes trickle down to me?  =)  Grandmama doesn’t know too much about her, except that she was an aunt in Germany on her mother’s side. ottilie-plaque

My history-loving curiosity wouldn’t let it rest. I went straight to the fount of all knowledge and wisdom: Google.  It offered a few answers. Apparently Ottilie lived in the mid and late 1800s and created a number of works.  Most of her writing career was spent writing novels and short stories for women and children.  She also worked as a magazine editor.

I wish I knew more about her. …But thinking about her during the drive home at Thanksgiving, the name Otto stuck with me.  My character informed me that it was settled.  So Otto she’ll stay. I wouldn’t want to argue with this one!

Lost in Austen

I think it’s time for a fun post. austen

What’s your favorite story…book, movie, or otherwise?

What if you could step into that story yourself?

Last night I watched part of a miniseries named, “Lost in Austen.” It’s Pride and Prejudice meets time travel fantasy. A modern-day fan of Jane Austen’s books discovers a portal into the past, finding herself smack dab in the world of her favorite tale.  To her surprise, her presence has an effect on the storyline. All is not what it seems.  This show is many Austen fans’ giddiest dream come true, delivering laugh-out-loud moments and breathtaking scenery.

So, I was wondering: what are your favorites?  Would you step into them if you could? Would you change anything about the stories?

Split Second

Have you ever done something in the blink of an eye that you instantly regretted?  …Of course not.

You wish you could hit rewind and reel those snarky words back into your mouth.  Or dodge the car in front of you that your bumper just kissed.  Or un-dance like Seinfeld’s Elaine at the office party.

But you can’t.  Just like that (can you hear me snapping?) it’s out there and can’t be undone.

I spent yesterday in a court room. A friend was on trial for one of those snap moments. He’d been in a hard place emotionally and made a dumb decision in public–he’ll tell you the same thing.  No one was hurt, and in most situations it would be no cause for lasting concern, but in this particular situation it carried consequences.  Those consequences could’ve ranged from very minor to very serious. I know that’s vague, but my point is this: while the jury deliberation dragged on, my friend commented quietly, “You know, something you do in a split second can jeopardize everything you’ve worked for over 30 years.” Those words struck me.

His future rested in the hands of fellow citizens.

While we all waited and waited, I doodled some poetry and thought about what he said.  My mind’s eye meandered through the graveyard of mdogwoodarty own, big split-second regrets. It wasn’t a long path, but it also wasn’t a pleasant jaunt.

Funny how those things can alter our life. Some have minor consequences, some major, switching our path to one side or the other. I finished my trip down regretful memory lane, mentally sitting down to rest. God whispered to me, reminding me that He can take all things and fashion them for His purpose. I smiled, and glanced back at the path I’d just taken, spying flowers growing up to overtake the graves of regrets, buried by His grace. Beauty triumphed.

I’m so thankful that, despite mistakes, our future rests in His hands.

Pause Again

Hello, friends, and Happy New Year.  This post first appeared here last year. I think it’s appropriate for today, too.  I’m itching to edit it; my style has changed slightly since I wrote this.  It’ll stand as written, though, as a personal time capsule.

Which is your favorite month of the year? Of course, January is everyone’s best-loved month, right?

Okay, probably not.

Ten or 15 years ago January was last on my list. Back then I didn’t like cold weather, and January just seemed like a bleak, blustery, colorless month that had to be endured. I wondered if a person could get in on the bears’ hibernation deal.

What changed? Maybe it was when I got married in a January wedding. Suddenly there was a permanent bright spot on the calendar that time every year. Also around that time I launched into my transition from a hot-weather loving/cold-weather shunning girl into quite the opposite.

Whatever the reason, I now really like the first month o’ the year. While not my absolute favorite, it does have its charms. Yes, after Christmas and New Year’s, life resumes with the hustle and bustle of daily routines. …But overall, there seems to be a quiet simplicity that hushes the land. A brisk stillness that can be seen in bare tree branches and blankets of snow. It’s as if nature has paused for a moment.

It’s a welcome chance for me to pause as well, reminiscing with a smile about the holidays, being grateful for countless blessings, and feeling hopeful about the time ahead. Maybe that’s also why I’m drinking hot chocolate more often–it’s a chance to warm up and take a moment to stop and just think…often a rarity in our busy days.

(At least that’s the reason I tell myself as I take another sip.) =)